#WHOAEducationNation (Part I) (UPDATED)
I’m still recovering from the effects of web 2.0 over-stimulation (aka Education Nation’s Teacher Town Hall), so this will be fairly unpolished. You’ve been warned!
First off, I’m really pleased by how many teachers were able to stand up and say important things about the current school reform climate, and the reality we face in schools every day. I’m dismayed by how many people failed to realize that we do this EVERY DAY, though! There are so many fantastic edbloggers out there (check our “Good Reads” list for just a minor sampling), as well as Facebook groups, message boards on various sites, etc. Education Nation did NOT trigger a new conversation among teachers, though it did create another networking opportunity for us, which I appreciate. (For folks who enjoyed tweeting about this stuff today, join us today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter– #edreform #edchat #ecosys #elemchat #ptchat…these conversations are literally happening all the time!)
[Thanks, also, to those I was able to connect with– I will respond to you when I’m allowed to tweet again…]
Second: I’m not sure whether this was intentional or not, but by creating so many different ways for people to connect in such a short period of time, it actually made it very difficult to have a coherent discussion of any kind. If NBC seriously wants a substantive conversation (rather than a spectacle of teachers making one-off points while Brian Williams sweats and tries desperately not to run or cry), they should axe all the programming devoted to chatter among billionaires and dictators (SO dismayed by this morning’s Meet the Press lineup, BTW…) and make the WHOLE WEEK about targeted, broadcasted conversations among teachers, students, and parents about the issues facing education today. Figure out the biggest issues (by asking teachers, students & parents…), and then organize each day’s programming and discussion around each one. (For instance, today might have been about the purpose of education, tomorrow could be about recruitment and retention of quality teachers, Tuesday could be about funding and resources, etc.)
Third: I’m sincerely embarrassed for teachers my age, after hearing some of the ahistorical, uninformed comments coming out of some of the young teachers’ mouths! Obviously, people won’t all agree on the nuts and bolts of everyday practice, or what a “good” education looks like. That can and should be different for different people– we need that diversity.
But there is no excuse for just blatantly not knowing about the history of your profession and why certain practices and procedures (due process rights, etc.) are in place. When that one girl said that the union contract in regular public schools prevents teachers from working overtime to serve students, I wanted to throw something at the screen!
Teachers of my generation, I IMPLORE YOU: Take the time to learn something about the history of schooling in America (especially with regards to policy, pedagogy, and the ever-changing definitions of best practice), the history of the labor movement in general, about psychometrics (the science of educational testing) and about what cognitive and developmental psychologists have to say about how people learn. I urge you twice as much if you are someone who did not take a traditional route into the teaching profession. There is a reason you are preferred over older/professionally educated teachers, and it’s NOT because you’re better than they are! It’s because you’re cheaper, you know less, and you are therefore easier to manipulate. Don’t fall for it– don’t unwittingly participate in the de-professionalization of teaching. Our heart and dedication won’t matter if we lose the knowledge (and the protections) that help us do what’s really right for students.
I need to take a break from all this and let some information settle in my brain. More soon!